Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Week One - A is for Aristotle

Happy New Year and Welcome to Book Week One.  I'm looking forward to a whole new year of reading - discovering new and new to me authors and many different genres.  My choices in books has been pretty eclectic in the past couple years expanding to include almost all of the different genres.  And within the different genres are many subcategories.   Over the new year, I'll be exploring and discussing the the different genres and one genre that I find myself leaning toward right now is literary classics.

What is it about the classics?  I've noticed a resurgence of interest around the blogosphere. Perhaps it's me.  I didn't appreciate the classics when I was younger - perhaps because I didn't understand them or didn't want to take the time too.  When I was younger  I read only for entertainment - an escape.  Now I read not only for entertainment purposes, but to learn.  Which means slowing down and taking the time to think and ponder over the meaning, the symbolism.  A couple years back I read  a Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer which lead me to dip my toe into the water and read Don Quixote.

Included in the book are her suggestions of great books to read from 5 genres: Fiction, Autobiography, History/Politics, Drama and Poetry. The books are listed chronologically and she suggests reading them in order. The genres are broken down into 5 chapters with an detail explanation how to read them and a synopsis is included on each title with the best edition to read.

For example the first 5 books in Fiction are:

Don Quixote
Pilgrims Progress
Gulliver's Travels
Price and Prejudice
Oliver Twist

The first 5 books in Autobiography are:

Augustine 'The Confessions'
Margery Kemp - "The book of Margery Kemp"
Michael De Montaigne - 'Essays'
Teresa of Avila - 'Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself'
Rene Descartes - 'Meditations'

The first five books in History:

Herodotus: 'The Histories'
Thucydides: 'The Peloponnesian War'
Plate:'The Republic'
Plutarch: 'Lives'
Augustine: 'The City of God'

The first five books in Drama:

Aeschylus: 'Agamemmon'
Sophocles: 'Oedipus the King'
Euripides: 'Medea'
Aristophanes: 'The Birds'
Aristotle: 'Poetics'

The First Five books in Poetry

The Epic of Gilgamesh
Homer 'The Iliad and the Odyssey'
'Greek Lyrics'
Horace 'Odes'

A couple years ago, I set my own personal challenge to read at least one book from each area and dipped in my foot and started reading  Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.  Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the stories, the writing. So I decided to jump in with both feet and read more classics.  Well Educated Mind is a great resource, but isn't definitive.  There are many "great books" lists to be found on the internet. 

We have quite a few classics in our home library, that we've inherited over the years.  I've read very few of them.  Then 5minutes for Books introduced their revamped Classic Book Club for 2010 in which you get to pick which books you want to read and how many.   I perused our shelves and came up with 12 books I want to read.

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  3. Emma by Jane Austen
  4. Metaphysics (John Henry MacMahon translation) by Aristotle
  5. Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  6. Nicomachean Ethics (James E.C. Welldon translation) by Aristotle 
  7. Phaedo by Plato 
  8. Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  9. Poetics (Samuel Henry Butcher translation) by Aristotle
  10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  11. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  12. The Stargazer: A novel of the life of Galileo by Zsolt De Haranyi
Think it is possible?  a challenge?  Are you up for a challenge within the challenge.   I challenge you to read a classic.   You can dip your toe in with one book or jump in wholeheartedly and read 12 classics in 12 months.    I'll be starting with Aristotle's Poetics.

Which classic will you be reading first?


  1. Here's my classics list:

    1. Alexander Pope "Rape of the Lock"
    2. Sir Walter Scott "Ivanhoe"
    3. Charlotte Bronte "Villette"
    4. John Bunyan "Pilgrim's Progress"
    5. Oscar Wilde "Picture of Dorian Gray"
    6. Mark Twain "The Tragedy of Puddin' Head Wilson"
    7. Mark Twain "The Autobiography of Mark Twain"
    8. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "The Hounds of Baskervilles"
    9. James Joyce "Ulysses"
    10. Virginia Woolf "A Room of One's Own"
    11. Upton Sinclair "The Jungle"
    12. Jonathan Swift "Gulliver's Travels"

  2. Pride and Prejudice here - I just stared at the "A" section of fiction, lol. Not sure what next...maybe another Austen as I don't remember reading her works in high school/college (when I last read classics!)

  3. I pick "All quiet on the Western Front"--it even starts with A, which is a total coincidence. I picked it because we're doing WWI next week and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

  4. Pride and Prejudice here - I just stared at the "A" section of fiction, lol. Not sure what next...maybe another Austen as I don't remember reading her works in high school/college (when I last read classics!)


Thank you for your kind comments.